At this time of year, the body, mind, and soul can be in need of a little extra TLC and yoga could be the answer to helping get, and keep, you on track.
Trying to listen to alignment cues in a yoga class and understanding the right positioning can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re a complete beginner and simply trying to just keep up!
That’s why every month I break down a pose, show you how to get into it safely, highlight its benefits and offer one or two top tips. This month, we are focussing on Mountain Pose, also referred to as Tadasana in Sanskrit.
Generally the starting point for all standing poses, Tadasana is useful practiced as a pose in itself. Looks easy, right? I mean, you’re just standing there, right? Let me take you through it. See what you think.
Establishing the Foundation of the Pose
- To begin, you can stand with your big toes touching, heels slightly apart or, if you are having difficulty with balancing, stand with the feet just hip distance apart
- Come up onto your tip-toes, stabilise by pressing into the toe mounds and then gently place the outer heel down and the inner heel down
- Raise your toes from the mat, spread them as much as possible, then begin to place the big toes down, followed by the rest of the toes on each foot
- Rock back and forth, side to side on the feet to distribute the weight evenly
Moving into the Pose
- This is where a subtle activation begins… relax the weight of your body into your feet
- Imagine the inner ankles strengthening and pulling away from each other
- Then begin to firm the thigh muscles, as you do that you will feel the kneecaps lift
- Lengthen down through the tailbone so that your pelvis tilts upwards slightly (imagine the hip bones moving towards the ribcage) and your core muscles switch on
- Visualise a line of energy coming through your feet and legs, all the way up along your inner thighs, along your spine, neck and head
Maintaining the Pose
- Raise your shoulders up towards your ears, roll them back and down so that your shoulder blades come flat on your back
- This naturally creates an external rotation of the arms as they hang beside the upper body, keeping that external rotation, turn the palms in to face the thighs and reach down through the fingers
- Broadening across the chest, raise the top of the sternum towards the ceiling (be careful not to over-extend the rib cage here)
- Extend upwards through the crown of the head and ensure that it is placed in line with the pelvis
- The chin is parallel to the floor and not jutting out too far or tucked in too much
- Soften through the throat and the jaw and soften your gaze to a fixed point
- Stay here for a couple of breaths
Completing the Pose
- Just let go!
Benefits of the Pose
- Improves posture and postural awareness
- Strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles
- Strengthens the core and glutes
- Strengthens the arches
Don’t do it if…
- You are experiencing headaches or low blood pressure
If you are not sure you are completely in line, practice the pose against a wall making sure the heels, sacrum (between your lower back and your buttocks) and shoulder blades touch the wall.
For more of a challenge, close your eyes and see if you can maintain your balance. Known as the foundation for most standing poses in yoga, become familiar with how your body feels in this pose and aim to recreate that in all standing postures.